Faith/Spirituality Forum: Last Supper and Twins
Last Supper and Twins QUESTION from Robert on September 25, 2002 I know that this is a Q and A site and not a message board, but I've read two of your previous questions and I have doubts about the answers given. The questions were, one about the soul of twins and the other about the last supper.
I would like to have your comment on my views, and I am not sure which version is correct.
a) On the matter of the Last Supper, you said:
It is my understanding that the Eucharist at the Last Supper was a pre-curser to the Eucharist as we know it in the Real Presence. Jesus was establishing the ceremony and ritual that would become the Mass. He was establishing what would become his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
I accept that what you have just said is true, in the sense that the Last Supper was a pre-curser to the Eucharist, also because it was celebrated before the Sacrifice of the Cross, and all Masses are a memorial and a perpetuation of the Sacrifice.
However, I do believe that the Last Supper was not only about creating the cerimonies, as you said. My understanding is that the bread and wine blessed by Jesus and handed to the Apostles did become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus at that very moment, so that the Apostles were fed with the Sacred Species.
I believe that was so because Christ said at that moment: This is my body... And I believe that Christ meant what he spoke. And really, there is no problem in the fact that Christ was present in body, blood, soul and Divinity at the table among the Twelve.
My view is that this line of belief is in keeping St. Thomas Aquinas advice, in his Adoro Te devote hymn: . Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius, Nil hoc verbo Veritatis verius. I believe, for God the Son hath said it, Word of Truth that ever shall endure.
St Thomas Aquinas also said in his Pange Lingua hymn that Christ gave himself as food for the group of the Twelve: In suprema nocte coenae, Recumbus cum fratribus, Observata lege plene, Cibis in legalibus Cibum turbae duodenae - Se dat suis manibus. This very hymn is used during in Liturgy during Holy Thursday Mass for the procession with the Sacrament.
At Mass, each and every host becomes, after consacration, the whole Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. In like fashion, during the Last Supper, Christ was present sitting at the Table among the Twelve as well as under the species of blood and bread, in the very same moment.
b)On the question of the twins joined at birth, you said that they are ensouled on the moment of conception, before they are joined. I agree with you that each person has a soul, so each twin has a soul. The problem is that the twins are not joined after conception.
When conception happens, the new human being is formed, and he is at that stage made up of a single cell. This cell is the result of the conception. This cell is divided in a process called celular reproduction, so that you end up with two cells, than four, etc. And in this way the embryo grows. Those are the first stages of the embryo's life. When nature follows its natural course, the embrio will continue growing in number of cells without splitting in two.
Zigotic twins (those who look the same and who have the same DNA), are a result of the split of the same original embryo. As a result of the split, two groups of cells, go take their places in the woumb. So that, as from the moment the embryo is separated into two embryos.
In most cases, the separation of the embryos is complete, so that, at birth, two completely separated twins are born. But, when separation is incomplete, the two people will be born attached to each other, and in some cases will share some organs. When they share an indivisible vital organ, then they are likely to die after separation - or at least one of them. But there are cases when the cirurgical separation can be sucessful (eg. when there are two brains and two hearts, etc). Then, they may be joined at the head, but, as long as there are two brains, they can be separated and live separate lives.
Given that scenario, can we say when ensoulment takes place in such a complex case?
Is it possible that God, perhaps already knowing that the embryio will split, will craft two souls so that the splinter group of cells will be ensouled in the moment of the split?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on September 30, 2002 Dear Robert:
Thanks for the information.
I apologize for the brief and cryptic answer I gave about the Last Supper. I wasn't sure about it. The question from Father Smith was more complete, and you statements are even more complete. Thanks
As for the twins, I KNEW when I wrote that someone would be quick to correct me in the medical facts. :)
As I mentioned, the science of all that is not my specialty. However, theologically and ontologically, the details of how twins are formed in the womb does not matter.
Each and every person is given a unique and personal soul.
To speculate, given the information you have given, it at conception there is one individual and later they split into two individuals, then I would say the first individual was ensouled at conception, the second individual was ensouled at the moment of the split when he came into existence.
Or maybe God has ensouled both at conception in a mysterious way since He knows the future split into twins will occur.
I don't think we can know for sure. But we can know one thing for sure -- each individual has an individual and unique soul from the moment of their existence. We can know this because of the development of understanding in the Church over the centuries. I am well aware of some of hte saints given differing opinions on this. But, I believe today, as far as I know anyway, this is no longer an issue in the Church (though it may be among liberals).
But I could be wrong :)
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